No. 1186



There is a famous Bill Gaither song that goes, “I am so glad that I am a part of the family of God.” To me, this is so wonderful. It means that anyone who is a believer and knows Jesus as their Savior is a part of God’s family. This has nothing to do with denomination or what church we attend, but more so with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The church is the body of Christ and it is left to each believer, with direction by the Holy Spirit, to decide where we want to worship and fellowship.
As I often tell people who want to give me more credit than I deserve, the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. Regardless of our success or station in life, we all come to Him the same way at the end of our days here on earth and we meet Him face to face, whether we are red, yellow, black, white, or brown. There is no U-Haul behind a hearse.
These thoughts came to mind after we attended the 127th “Homecoming” at Bethlehem Baptist Church north of Conway back on June 10, 2018. Sometime following this service I got to thinking about the influence that small country churches all across our nation have had on our society. When it comes to a good example I did not have to look too far. This is the church where my wife Janis grew up and would also, along with her late husband, raise her family. She and her mom served for a number of years as the church pianist/organist, and her son Roy would choose to serve the Lord and go into the ministry. He is presently the pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Warren, Ohio, and has more than 1,000 members in his congregation.
It is safe to say that small country churches have provided a good percentage of ministers of the Gospel, along with entertainers, business executives, educators, statesmen and others from all walks of life. A good example is the late Mr. Arch Ford, who served under several governors as Commissioner of Education in my state for 26 years. Arch or Archie, as he was called, also served as Sunday School Superintendent and Deacon at Bethlehem, along with Janis’s late father. Because I am part of God’s family they have been so good to me. Obviously, in smaller churches everyone knows everyone else; unlike mega churches where you only really get to know those in your Sunday school class.
But the thing that really comes home to me is that people are so much friendlier in small country churches and they come around and shake your hand and tell you how glad they are that you are there, and really mean it. Another benefit of churches of this kind is that they have some really great cooks, and following this special “homecoming” service everyone left the sanctuary and went to their fellowship hall for a fantastic meal. Again, there is just a real spirit of love and harmony there that makes you want to come back. Of course, the real reason you feel this way is because you are family; you are a part of the Family of God.
As I bring this column to a close, I have wondered many times over the years why the church has been so much more a part of community life in the Bible belt than other parts of the country. I know our nation’s history pretty well, and our Forefathers’ deep faith, but as I have traveled across our land I don’t see the same level of participation in church life. Of course, God is present everywhere and so is His church. Now, I am wondering out loud, could it be that less sunshine and bitterly cold winters could be some of the difference? In America we all have so much to be thankful for and I am grateful for our heritage. Thanks for allowing me to share this.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)